You might think that all video games’ plots belong strictly in the realm of fantasy. And most of the time, you’d be right! However, there is a growing number of games that take their plot directly from or stylize real-life events. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we:
1. Assassins’ Creed
This is an obvious one, seeing as how you travel to historical locations and interact with actual, historical characters. Some even say that this game is a better history teacher than your textbook! Of course, some elements are clearly fictionalized; otherwise, the Knights of Templar really are engaged in a war of the ages to gain control of the Apple of Eden as I write this!
2. L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire may be the best detective game ever made. The cases are drippingly dark and the procedures realistic. What’s the secret behind it all? Simple: they literally leafed through thousands of pictures and news clippings of Los Angeles in the 40s! All the cases are directly inspired by real-life crimes that happened in the city during that time period, including, of course, the infamous Black Dahlia case.
3. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
There are actually lots of WWII-inspired video games like Call of Duty, Medal of Honour et cetera. But if you want the real WWII experience, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is the answer to your prayers. Set in France, you play Sergeant Matt Baker undertaking Mission Albany. That’s about all I know about it, actually, so just play the damn game, eh.
4. The Saboteur
Another WWII-inspired game, this offering from Pandemic Studios (best known for Star Wars: Battlefront II) takes place in Nazi-occupied Germany, putting you in the shoes of Sean Davlin (based off of real-life grand prix winner William Grover Williams), a racecar mechanic who goes around sabotaging (hence the name) Nazi operations.
5. Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Based off of a real-life story from World War I, this game tells the story of 4 plucky characters: Emile the French soldier, his son-in-law Karl, American GI Freddie and the Belgian nurse Anna. This puzzle-based game accurately depicts the harrowing atrocities and yet also humanity during the Great War, supplemented by information contained in the in-game encyclopedia. Get ready for hella tears.
6. Dynasty Warriors 2
This Omega Force action game’s success cannot be doubted, spawning over 7 sequels and a few spin-offs adapted from other franchises like Gundam, Dragon Quest, One Piece et cetera. But did you know that this game has its roots in real life? Yep, this series is based off of a 14th-century Chinese history book (Romance of Three Kingdoms), which tells in detail the struggle of warring tribes in unifying China.
7. That Dragon, Cancer
Quite a piquing objet d’art amongst all the games on this list, TDC isn’t about action or adventure, but tells a story which so many have battled in real life. Joel Green is a cancer-stricken young boy, and this game takes you through his parents Ryan and Amy’s struggle to obtain treatment for him. Get the Kleenex out. Now.
8. The Beginner’s Guide
From the maker of the Stanley Parable, comes an even more seemingly absurd project. The Beginner’s Guide launches you into a computer owned by Coda, Davey Wreden (the aforesaid creator)’s friend, and toy around with all his unfinished games. At first, everything seems a skosh random. But a powerful theme emerges throughout the story: that Coda and his works are just a representation of Davey’s real-life depression at the time. Overwhelmed by the success of his first game (the Stanley Parable), he somehow broke his long-standing relationship with his roommate Robin (a.k.a Coda), and this is sort of his way of making up for it. Long story short, get it now.